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Perhaps this illustration is a bit over the top, but it is an unfortunate reality for many of our retiree and disabled Brothers and Sisters. Pension benefits often do not cover sky-rocketing medication costs, not if you intend to eat, too. Volunteers have it worse, yet - some gave 20 to 30 plus years of service to a community, working a full-time job that may, or may not have provided retirement benefits. It's heartbreaking to see them struggle with drug costs; having to make the choice between daily living and life saving medication.

I wish I had a solution! All I can offer is a whimsical take on a serious situation and the knowledge that we honor your service and sympathize with your struggle.

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Comment by Paul Combs on June 12, 2010 at 11:27am
Chief Halton and I seldom agree on politics, but in this case, I tend to side with him - to an extent. Though I believe that our Fed Gov and those who are elected to "serve" our interests do have a role in health care, especially when it comes to the under privileged and uninsured - I do NOT want them making my choices or telling me who I can receive health care from. There's no question that insanity is running ramped in Washington, whether it be the roughshod Bush years, Capitol Hill, or the aimless Obama administration - real change is obviously needed. And in regards to Chief Halton's statement "But I do think we need to elect brighter more dedicated and more ethical people to public office." - good luck, there! Unless these incredibly intelligent, ethical, and qualified people are among the (B)Millionaire club, you'll never see their name on any ballot (not for long, anyway). The ol' saying that "anyone can be President", doesn't apply by today's standards!!

Not sure what the answer is, smarter people than me will have to figure that one out - I hope.
Comment by Mike France on June 12, 2010 at 10:49am
As Always great and true
Comment by Brad Hoff on June 8, 2010 at 6:26pm
Interesting story about pensions in Scranton Pa from IAFC Daily Dispatch Majority councilman sues Scranton over loss of firefighters pension
Comment by John K. Murphy on June 8, 2010 at 5:50pm
The big issue for many of retirement age is that the government is already into our healthcare system and the new health care legislation will either make it better for us all or it will get worse for many of us. Bobby, I know that you are not there yet but if you're in your 60's Medicare and Medicaid are the only choice unless you have a nice pension or private insurance benefits. Health care rationing is also occurring in those programs as well. It becomes extremely problematic if you have work exposure induced medical issues and the symptoms only recently appeared. How do you prove an on-the-job nexus? It takes a lawyer to figure out its programs and provisions. Many pension based health care systems will require you to enroll in the government programs after your reach that magic age of 65. That will cut their costs – a program you paid into for your entire career and when you need it, it deflates like a leaky balloon. I always remember the old saw, “we’re from the government and we’re here to help.” Well HELP!!!
Comment by Bobby Halton on June 8, 2010 at 11:41am
As a retiree, and official old guy I can relate to this cartoon. I am on a pension and I have had my share of medical issues and expensive medicines. My pension does not cover medical at all. But it is a good pension primarily because we paid 16% of our own salaries with varying degrees of city contributions to make it a good pension. If someone is self disciplined enough to invest well (i.e. buy home that they intend to live in not flip) watch their spending and live within their means. Exercise enough self-discipline to contribute 10 to 16% of their salary annually to their pension, hopefully without a catastrophic economic problem they should be okay in retirement. My old man used to call this the American way, self-discipline, self responsibility and personal accountability. I disagree a little of my good friends Brad and John in that I do not want the government involved in my health-care at all. I've watched the government my entire career and am really impressed with the great job they do of taking simple matters and making them incredibly complex, and taking tremendous time with things that have no relevance whatsoever to any of the common good and very little time with things that are tremendously important. When we really look at medical costs America they are so expensive because of the government and all of their interventions, regulations and other impositions they impose on the company's and organizations that provide medical care. To say nothing of the legal profession who are by and large wonderful people, my old man was a lawyer, but they do have a good share of ambulance chasers and unnecessary frivolous lawsuits. A good case in point is our continuing struggle to get hydroxycabalomine (the antidote to cyanide poisoning, Cynot kits) approved for smoke inhalation here in the United States. The FDA (government)has put more roadblocks preventing this than anyone can imagine. Although this drug has been wide use in Europe for almost 20 years with tremendous success we still cannot get it here in the US because of...... that's right the government. Please don't take me wrong I'm not completely against the government doing what the government should do provide for the protection of the American public both domestically and internationally but I'm extremely concerned about the government getting involved in things it should not be involved in. When it comes to the federal government for me less is more. I'm a local guy, I believe that government is best that governs least and that all politics are local. We are not the only pensioners in America who are struggling with high costs of medical care and the answers are not simple or easy and so this debate will go on for years. But I do not think that the insurance companies are inherently evil or that the government is inherently bad or that either are the perfect solution in isolation. But I do think we need to elect brighter more dedicated and more ethical people to public office. I do believe we need to reinstitute the 17th amendment and term limits especially for federal political offices. Our founding fathers in particular, Thomas Paine stated that one should serve for a specific amount of time and be precluded from serving for a specific amount of time. We should end the practice of making a career out of political service because it has given rise to a class of politicians who have become social elitists who crave nothing but power and who do little to contribute to the general welfare. And those people are making medical care and medicine a bigger problem than it is right now. Yes we need solutions to rising costs of medical care but having the government manage that care in my opinion is not the solution. Adding more government involvement in my opinion can only result in it becoming more expensive, more restricted and more difficult than it is right now.
Comment by Jeff Schwering on June 8, 2010 at 11:41am
Outstanding Paul, we are going through changes to insurance increasing now at our place. The Brothers who went before us really have it rough. Pensions get smaller prices keep going up. Those of us on the line now, can't look forward to a retirement, if this keeps up!
Comment by Brad Hoff on June 8, 2010 at 10:30am
Brother, we need to send your illustrations to those who sit in D.C.!

I am greatful for good health insurance but my premiums keep going up and my pay goes the opposite way and I am a Federal FF. I dreed the day when I retire if it keeps going this way. If our representatives in Washington D.C say they care and are working for us, then why haven't they done anything about keeping insurance costs down and instituting more laws to regulate the big corporations? Because the insurance companies have more lobbyists in D.C. than we do and the politicians like thier campaign contributions! There are steps being taken but not enough and far too late!

We need the American people to stand up and say enough is enough and demand our government do more for American citizens and not someone from another country!
Comment by John K. Murphy on June 8, 2010 at 10:00am
After 32 years of active duty with the fire service, and in retirement, (not violating HIPAA) I have had two hips replaced, a hernia repair and one eye surgery that resulted in a lens replacement and take inhalers for asthma. Yes I wore a breathing apparatus, yes I kept my weight down, yes I wore eye protection; no I did not drink or smoke to excess or chew tobacco; yes I exercised every day, ate well and took vitamins and I thank god for excellent retired medical insurance. All of those previous problems are doing OK but my asthma condition requires twice daily medication. These drugs alone cost $235.00 per inhaler and I don’t have to make the hard decision between food and medications because of pension medical insurance. What of our brothers and sisters who are “worn down” by their duty and can’t afford the basics of life? There must be some relief in the form of a pension or an exception for prescription and health care costs for those providing a public service.

An EXCELLENT ILLUSTRATION that says so much. Thank you

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